Trans Am - Boris Said Takes Long Beach



Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (1.968-mile street course):

1) Boris Said (No. 33 New Century Mortgage/Hitachi Data Systems Ford Mustang) 51 laps, 1h15m30.81sec (79.752mph)
2) Johnny Miller (No. 64 Eaton Cutler-Hammer Jaguar XKR) +4.296sec
3) Scott Pruett (No. 7 Rocketsports/The Jaguar R Performance Jaguar XKR) +5.642s
4) Paul Gentilozzi (No. 3 Rocketsports/The Jaguar R Performance Jaguar XKR) +6.522s
5) Jorge Diaz Jr (No. 8 Puerto Rico Grand Prix Jaguar XKR) +7.123s
6) Stuart Hayner (No. 2 Trenton Forging Corvette) +11.873s
7) Greg Pickett (No. 6 Cytomax Jaguar) +14.175s
8) Bobby Sak (No. 10 Revolution Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette) +17.491s
9) Michael Lewis (No. 12 Trans-Am Tools Jaguar XKR) +1:27.671s
10) Joey Scarallo (No. 06 ROH Wheels Chevrolet Corvette) –2 laps
11) Claudio Burtin (No. 07 Burtin Engineering/Line-X Panoz Esperante) –4 laps
12) Marvin Jones (No. 45 Margraf Racing/M&L Jones Racing Qvale Mangusta) –4 laps
13) Tomy Drissi (No. 5 League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Jaguar XKR) –5 laps
14) Simon Gregg (No. 59 Derhaag Chevrolet Corvette) –5 laps
15) George Nolte (No. 43 Margraf Racing/ Ford Mustang) –5 laps
16) John Baucom (No. 86 Baucom Motorsports Jaguar XKR) –12 laps
17) Max Lagod (No. 83 Hypermax Camaro) –17 laps
18) Randy Ruhlman (No. 49 PLP Corvette) –20 laps
19) Mike Davis (No. 11 New Century Mortgage/Hitachi Data Systems Ford Mustang) –24 laps


Boris Said left the last two years of Long Beach bad luck behind him as he took his first Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Although the defending series champion led this race handily for the last two years, incidents cost him wins in 2001 and 2002. In 2001, he was leading and crashed out all by himself. In 2002, he got the short end of a last-lap, three-car fight between him, Paul Gentilozzi and Justin Bell that resulted in one of the most exciting race finishes in Trans-Am history.

This year, though, Said qualified his No. 33 New Century Mortgage/Hitachi Data Systems Ford Mustang second and hounded polesitter Scott Pruett until lap 47, when he got by him in Turn Eight of the 1.968-mile street course. From there he pulled out a slight lead in the remaining four laps to take a 4.296sec victory over Johnny Miller, who also passed Pruett in the closing laps.

Among the Trans-Am drivers, Pruett may have the most experience around the Long Beach circuit in a variety of race cars, including a win in Trans-Am’s first appearance at the Southern California temporary circuit in 1987. However, he said it was his lack of recent Trans-Am experience that cost the polesitter the win. Pruett led 46 laps of the 51-lap race, but used up the tires on his No. 7 Rocketsports/The Jaguar R Performance Jaguar XKR holding off Said.

"Being out of the series as long as I have, I just ran them too hard," said Pruett, whose last full season in Trans-Am was his 1994 title year. "I stepped over the edge today and had nothing left to fight with."

Up until the point of a full-course caution that began on lap 41, Pruett and Said ran nose to tail, pulling out a lead on the rest of the field. Before the yellow, the pair had built a 10-second edge on everybody else. The yellow was one of the series’ new "competition yellows," which can be called to bunch up the field, but it also coincided with a need to remove debris from the circuit, series officials said.

After the yellow, Said hounded Pruett until he got by him a lap-and-a-half after the restart. Pruett then fell within reach of Miller’s Eaton Cutler-Hammer Jaguar XKR, and Miller got beside him on the back straight, passing him going into Turn Nine.

Miller had a lonely race. He passed third-place starter Michael Lewis at the start and then ran by himself between the lead pair and the fight for fourth. He attributed that in part to a soft brake pedal in the early laps of the race.

"I didn’t want to get tucked up behind anybody and cut off air to the brakes. So I backed off and preserved the car a bit," Miller said.

That left Paul Gentilozzi in the No. 3 Rocketsports/The Jaguar R Performance XKR to provide the excitement in the first part of the race. Gentilozzi set the third-fastest qualifying time, but started 15th in the 19-car field after a ride-height infraction found in post-qualifying tech inspection nullified his time. Gentilozzi was saved from starting dead last by two cars that had engine changes prior to the race and three that were sent to the back for failing to qualify within 110 percent of the fast time.

Gentilozzi moved steadily up the field until he got to sixth, behind teammate Tomy Drissi. It took him a while to get by Drissi, and then Lewis. Once in fourth, however, he couldn’t gain on the top three, even after the full-course caution. Rookie Jorge Diaz Jr. in the Puerto Rico Grand Prix Jaguar XKR finished fifth.

Said becomes the ninth different winner in 12 Trans-Am races at long Beach, joining Pruett, Gentilozzi, Drissi, Irv Hoerr, Robby Gordon, Ron Fellows, Jamie Galles and Lou Gigliotti. Gentilozzi is the only driver with more than one Long Beach victory, winning in 1988, 1998-’99 and last year. The top three at Long Beach were the same as the top three in the season opener at St. Petersburg, although the order changed. Pruett, thanks to two poles and the St. Pete victory, retains the championship points lead, with four over Said.
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